LUBBOCK, Texas – After a brief stint at home, the Texas Tech soccer team returns to the road for its final non-conference road trip of the year for a pair of matches at the University of Arizona Tournament in Tucson on Sept. 8-10 at Mulcahy Stadium.
The Red Raiders (4-1-0) take on Arizona State (1-2-1) on Friday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m. CDT, and wrap up the weekend with a match against Arizona (1-1-2) on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 8 p.m. CDT. Both matches will be streamed live on PAC-12.com, with live stats available via TexasTech.Statbroadcast.com.
“More than anything, we’re going to find out how tough we are,” head coach Tom Stone said. “It’s going to be hot. That’s going to be a shock to our system. We’re facing two very-athletic PAC-12 teams. One with a new coach & one with a coaching staff that has done a phenomenal job of putting Arizona back on the map. It’s going to show some toughness because you can’t just be talented and go up there and win. You have to be tough, you have to have attitude, play physical, be fit, strong and you have to be deep. All of that will be tested this weekend.”
Last weekend featured Tech’s first home match of the 2017 season, and the crowd of 1,596 was treated to a show by the scarlet & black. Four different Red Raiders picked up goals in Tech’s 4-0 victory over Appalachian State, which featured two student-athletes with their first career markers. Ally Griffin (34’) led off the scoring, followed by Gwennie Puente (40’) to give Tech a 2-0 halftime lead. After the break, Savanna Jones (54’) and Kirsten Davis (77’) added two more to help put away the Mountaineers. It was the most goals a Tech team had scored in a match since Sept. 4, 2015, against UTSA.
The Red Raiders improved to 11-0 under Stone in home openers with the win and pulled their all-time record at the John Walker Soccer Complex to 66-20-5.
“We’re just trying to get better every week,” Stone said. “Scoring one goal a game wasn’t going to be enough to get us through a whole season, unless we shutout every team, which is unlikely. It was good to get on the board. Some girls got their first collegiate goals and we got all different kinds of goals. We got them off crosses, off back to goal sequence where Ally shook two defenders and smashed her first goal. Savanna got a follow up on a rebound. So, we got different kinds of goals from different areas of the field and from different players. All in all, it was a great start for our offense to get rolling into the weekend.”
Tech has squared off with the Sun Devils in every odd year since 2011, all at neutral sites. In 2011, the Red Raiders posted a 5-0 victory over ASU, then followed with a pair of 1-0 wins in 2013 (OT) and 2015, to hold a 3-0 series lead over the Sun Devils.
Since 2011, Tech has faced the Wildcats on four occasions, posting a 1-0-3 record in the process. After a scoreless draw in 2011, the Red Raiders recoded a 2-0 win in 2013 in Tucson. Each of the last two meetings between the two programs have resulted in 1-1 (2015) and 2-2 (2016) draws.
Last year’s contest featured some late-match heroics from the Red Raiders. Facing a 1-0 deficit, a free kick pass in the 65th minute from Rebekah O’Brien near Tech’s sideline found Jade King in the box, who flipped the ball over her head and into the opposite corner of the goal to knot the match up. The Red Raiders found themselves in a hole again after a Wildcat score in the 76’, but a perfect shot from the far left wing from O’Brien went just over the outstretched Wildcat keeper and under the crossbar for the game-tying goal.
This year’s Sun Devil team comes into the weekend with a 1-2-1 record having played three overtime matches so far this season. Their lone victory came in a 2-1 overtime win at San Diego State on Aug. 25, while their other results have come in one-goal contests.
For the Wildcats, their first win of the year came in a 2-0 victory over Big 12 foe Oklahoma in their season-opener. Similarly to the Sun Devils, Arizona’s only loss came by a 2-1 decision to UCF.
Tech’s 4-0 win over Appalachian State began a new month for the Red Raiders, who put together a 3-1-0 mark during the month of August. The victory was also the fourth clean sheet for Tech this season, making it the first time since 2013 the Red Raiders have won their first four-matches via shutout. In 2011, Stone’s squad’s first eight wins were clean sheets, as Tech outscored their opponents 20-0 in those contests.
A veteran backline and solid goalkeeping has allowed the Red Raiders to keep their opponents off the board in all but one match so far this season. Tech’s defensive unit largely remains the same as last season, while Junior Carissa Christensen and freshman Marissa Zucchetto continue to split time between the pipes for the Red Raiders. The duo has combined for eight saves this year, with Christensen accounting for five. Over the last two matches, the Tech defense has held opponents to just one shot on goal, which was thwarted by a goal line presence of O’Brien against the Mountaineers.
In Tech’s 4-0 win over Appalachian State, two Red Raiders scored their first collegiate goals, giving Tech four first-time scorers in 2017. Ally Griffin’s marker in the 34th minute & Savanna Jones’ tally in the 54th minute joined Hannah Fernandez (vs. Grand Canyon) and Kirsten Davis (at San Diego) in getting the proverbial monkey off their back.
After this weekend’s competition, the Red Raiders stay home for the following two weekends, first hosting San Diego State (Sept. 15) and Cal State-Northridge (Sept. 17) at the John Walker Soccer Complex.